NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter just marked an important milestone. Space.com reports that Ingenuity crossed the one-mile mark for total distance flown with its 10th flight on July 24th, when it traveled over the Jezero Crater's "Raised Ridges" area. That may not sound like a lot of flying, but NASA was only planning a few test flights for Ingenuity before expanding the vehicle's role — the robotic aircraft wouldn't have covered nearly as much ground otherwise.
This was also the most ambitious flight to date. The helicopter had to swing past 10 different waypoints, and flew to a record-high altitude of 40 feet during the 310-foot journey. It also had to capture enough images to help NASA produce stereoscopic images of Raised Ridges and help inform a potential visit from the Perseverance rover.
It's not clear just how many more miles Ingenuity can rack up. The helicopter is the first of its kind, and tends to push limits with each new flight. The one-mile threshold is significant by itself, though — it suggests the aircraft might accomplish a lot during Perserverance's planned two-year mission, and possibly more.
The #MarsHelicopter’s success today marks its 1-mile total distance flown. It targeted an area called "Raised Ridges." This is the most complex flight yet w/ 10 distinct waypoints and a record height of 40 ft (12 m). Its scouting is aiding @NASAPersevere. https://t.co/tboEcnLvx3 pic.twitter.com/Wc6tDVimIT— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) July 25, 2021